01-17-2008 17:13

Fu, one of the Chinese characters that best epitomize China's time-honored culture, is a necessity in Spring Festival celebrations. Nowadays, fu, literally meaning auspiciousness, blessing or happiness, usually appears as a cultural symbol to express people's wishes for the coming new year. Yet, in the past, the character mainly meant luck and fortune, which also represented the unanimous hope of the society.

The tradition of pasting the character fu on walls, doors and doorposts has existed among the people for a long time. According to Menglianglu , a book recording the folk customs in the Song Dynasty (960-1127), people at that time had already been practicing the tradition.

The character can either be written or printed. The accompanying patterns usually include a variety of themes like the god of longevity, a birthday peach, a carp, a dragon and a phoenix as well as other themes. The character written on paper can be pasted both normally and upside down, because in Chinese the "reversed fu" is homophonic with "fu comes", both being pronounced as "fudaole ."

There is a legend among the people about the origin of the pasting the "reversed fu ". Zhu Yuanzhang, the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), once planned to kill a family and marked them with the Chinese character fu, because the family has insulted his wife, Empress Ma. In order to avoid bloodshed, the Empress Ma ordered every family in the capital to paste the character fu in front of their doors.